Presented on Wednesday, September 24 at the Quarry Farm Barn. Chad Rohman is Professor of English and Director of the Core Curriculum at Dominican University in River Forest, IL. He is the editor of the Mark Twain Annual and co-editor, with Joe Csicsila, of Centenary Reflections on Mark Twain’s No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger (University of Missouri Press, 2009). His primary research interests include nineteenth-century American literature, particularly Mark Twain and his cohort, American women regional writers, and American Gothic literature. He also publishes and presents papers on the life and works of Flannery O’Connor. His recent chapter, “Awful Mystery: Flannery O’Connor as Gothic Artist” appears in Wiley-Blackwell’s A Companion to the American Gothic (Ed. Charles L. Crow, 2014).
Although they lived in different ages, had radically different backgrounds and upbringings, and their personal and professional lives took drastically different tracks, certain ideological affinities exist between Quaker John Woolman’s lifelong commitment to social justice and Twain’s. Woolman spent his adult life opposing war and zealously working for social justice, including the abolition of slavery and poverty reform. Just as passionately, Twain spent his adult life zealously writing satire that condemned intolerance and questioned the status quo in pre- and post-bellum American culture. Upon examination of their words and deeds, one might carefully conclude that Woolman and Twain were in some meaningful ways ideological ancestors and intellectual cousins.